The Appointed Festivals
The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.
“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.
“In addition to the Sabbath, these are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year.
Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
“The Lord’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month.[a] On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the Lord continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly. For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord. On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly.”
Celebration of First Harvest
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf. On that same day you must sacrifice a one-year-old male lamb with no defects as a burnt offering to the Lord. With it you must present a grain offering consisting of four quarts[b] of choice flour moistened with olive oil. It will be a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. You must also offer one quart[c] of wine as a liquid offering. Do not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels on that day until you bring this offering to your God. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.
The Festival of Harvest
“From the day after the Sabbath—the day you bring the bundle of grain to be lifted up as a special offering—count off seven full weeks. Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later. Then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves of bread to be lifted up before the Lord as a special offering. Make these loaves from four quarts of choice flour, and bake them with yeast. They will be an offering to the Lord from the first of your crops. Along with the bread, present seven one-year-old male lambs with no defects, one young bull, and two rams as burnt offerings to the Lord. These burnt offerings, together with the grain offerings and liquid offerings, will be a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Then you must offer one male goat as a sin offering and two one-year-old male lambs as a peace offering.
“The priest will lift up the two lambs as a special offering to the Lord, together with the loaves representing the first of your crops. These offerings, which are holy to the Lord, belong to the priests. That same day will be proclaimed an official day for holy assembly, a day on which you do no ordinary work. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live.[d]
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
The Festival of Trumpets
The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn,[e] you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the Lord.”
The Day of Atonement
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets.[f] You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves[g] and present special gifts to the Lord. Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with[h] the Lord your God. All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day. You must not do any work at all! This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation wherever you live. This will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and on that day you must deny yourselves. This day of rest will begin at sundown on the ninth day of the month and extend until sundown on the tenth day.”
The Festival of Shelters
And the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. Begin celebrating the Festival of Shelters[i] on the fifteenth day of the appointed month—five days after the Day of Atonement.[j] This festival to the Lord will last for seven days. On the first day of the festival you must proclaim an official day for holy assembly, when you do no ordinary work. For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord. The eighth day is another holy day on which you present your special gifts to the Lord. This will be a solemn occasion, and no ordinary work may be done that day.
(“These are the Lord’s appointed festivals. Celebrate them each year as official days for holy assembly by presenting special gifts to the Lord—burnt offerings, grain offerings, sacrifices, and liquid offerings—each on its proper day. These festivals must be observed in addition to the Lord’s regular Sabbath days, and the offerings are in addition to your personal gifts, the offerings you give to fulfill your vows, and the voluntary offerings you present to the Lord.)
“Remember that this seven-day festival to the Lord—the Festival of Shelters—begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed month,[k] after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest. On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees[l]—palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the Lord your God for seven days. You must observe this festival to the Lord for seven days every year. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month[m] from generation to generation. For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
So Moses gave the Israelites these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the Lord.
- 23:5 This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in late March, April, or early May.
- 23:13a Hebrew 2⁄10 of an ephah [4.4 liters]; also in 23:17.
- 23:13b Hebrew 1⁄4 of a hin [1 liter].
- 23:21 This celebration, called the Festival of Harvest or the Festival of Weeks, was later called the Festival of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1). It is celebrated today as Shavuot (or Shabuoth).
- 23:24 Hebrew On the first day of the seventh month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. This festival is celebrated today as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
- 23:27a Hebrew on the tenth day of the seventh month; see 23:24 and the note there. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. It is celebrated today as Yom Kippur.
- 23:27b Or to fast; similarly in 23:29, 32.
- 23:28 Or when atonement is made for you before.
- 23:34a Or Festival of Booths, or Festival of Tabernacles. This was earlier called the Festival of the Final Harvest or Festival of Ingathering (see Exod 23:16b). It is celebrated today as Sukkot (or Succoth).
- 23:34b Hebrew on the fifteenth day of the seventh month; see 23:27a and the note there.
- 23:39 Hebrew on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.
- 23:40 Or gather fruit from majestic trees.
- 23:41 Hebrew the seventh month.
Pure Oil and Holy Bread
The Lord said to Moses, “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. This is the lampstand that stands in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant.[a] Aaron must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation. Aaron and the priests must tend the lamps on the pure gold lampstand continually in the Lord’s presence.
“You must bake twelve flat loaves of bread from choice flour, using four quarts[b] of flour for each loaf. Place the bread before the Lord on the pure gold table, and arrange the loaves in two stacks, with six loaves in each stack. Put some pure frankincense near each stack to serve as a representative offering, a special gift presented to the Lord. Every Sabbath day this bread must be laid out before the Lord as a gift from the Israelites; it is an ongoing expression of the eternal covenant. The loaves of bread will belong to Aaron and his descendants, who must eat them in a sacred place, for they are most holy. It is the permanent right of the priests to claim this portion of the special gifts presented to the Lord.”
An Example of Just Punishment
One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father came out of his tent and got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the Name of the Lord[c] with a curse. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They kept the man in custody until the Lord’s will in the matter should become clear to them.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard the curse to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who curse their God will be punished for their sin. Anyone who blasphemes the Name of the Lord must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any native-born Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the Name of the Lord must be put to death.
“Anyone who takes another person’s life must be put to death.
“Anyone who kills another person’s animal must pay for it in full—a live animal for the animal that was killed.
“Anyone who injures another person must be dealt with according to the injury inflicted— a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Whatever anyone does to injure another person must be paid back in kind.
“Whoever kills an animal must pay for it in full, but whoever kills another person must be put to death.
“This same standard applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
After Moses gave all these instructions to the Israelites, they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him to death. The Israelites did just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
- 24:3 Hebrew in the Tent of Meeting, outside the inner curtain of the Testimony; see note on 16:13.
- 24:5 Hebrew 2⁄10 of an ephah [4.4 liters].
- 24:11 Hebrew the Name; also in 24:16b.